GW-308 -- The Hottest Gizmos and Gadgets from Japan

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Japan Inc Magazine Presents:
G A D G E T W A T C H

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The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
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Issue No. 308 Friday August 01, 2008
Subscribers: 9467
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Wooo! Hitachi releases full Hi-Def Blue-ray cam

Name: Hitachi Blue-ray Cam Wooo DZ-BD10H
Category: digital video camera
Price: About JPY160,000
Release date in Japan: August 9, 2008

Blu-ray, which won the format war over rival HD DVD in the
next-generation disc wars, continues its victory laps, recently
popping up in handheld digicams. The latest entry: Hitachi's
Blue-ray Cam Wooo DZ-BD10H.

The Wooo (let's call it that; it's so much more fun than
'DZ-whatever') is a lighter, higher-resolution upgrade to the
earlier Blu-ray-equipped DZ-BD9H, and marks Hitachi's first cam
to save full HD (1920x1080 High Definition) video to Blue-ray
discs (BD-R/RE). Its 7-megapixel CMOS sensor records video to
MPEG4 AVC/H.264 format, and takes still snaps at 2880ラ2160
resolution.

The Wooo gives you four ways to save video: the internal 30GB
hard drive, an SDHC memory card, 8-cm DVD-RAM/-RW/-R discs, or
8-cm Blu-ray discs, one of which holds about 7.5GB of data. The
hard drive or a 32GB SDHC card will each save over 4 hours of
full HD video, while a Blu-ray disc will store about an hour.
(Video saved to DVD is in non-HD MPEG2 format.) The camera
includes a one-touch dubbing feature to transfer recorded video
from hard drive or SDHC to a disc, for playback or further
editing on a PC.

Other specs: 10x optical zoom, face recognition, optical image
stabilization, 2.7-inch LCD display, HDMI connector for output
to a PC or TV. About 575g with battery.

More info:
http://av.hitachi.co.jp/cam/products_bd/bd10h/index.html
(Japanese)

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New PENTAX Optio digicam selects shooting mode automatically

Name: PENTAX Optio M60
Category: still compact digital camera
Price: About JPY20,000
Release date in Japan: August 22, 2008

Just about any modern camera, whether pocket-sized or big SLR,
offers user-selectable shooting modes for easy one-step
adjustment of numerous settings: Portrait to highlight skin
tones, Sports to prioritize fast shutter speed, and so on. Some
cameras strive to take even that decision-making out of users'
hands, automatically selecting shooting mode for the user.
Optics maker HOYA, holder of the PENTAX brand, claims that its
new Optio M60 goes farther down that road than any other cam,
with an unrivaled eight shooting modes that the camera will
automatically select from each time you shoot.

The 'Auto Picture' modes are Standard, Lanscape, Portrait,
Night, Night Portrait, Flowers, and Sports. Just point and
shoot, and let Optio analyze whether you're shooting a face, a
mountain, a rose, an athlete, and so on, and choose the best
mode for you. Assuming the feature works well, it does sound
useful for quick-draw shooting, shaving off those few seconds
typically required to twist a dial from that little flower
symbol to that little running guy symbol. In addition, automatic
macro shooting prevents the common problem of shooters
forgetting to switch back to normal focus after close-up shots.

The same computing power that analyzes scenery is put to use in
heavy-duty facial recognition, of course: the Optio will detect
and set ideal focus and exposure for as many as 32(!) faces at
once, and when dealing with few faces, can perform its mug
analysis in as little as 0.03 seconds. On top of that is 'Smile
Capture', to hold back the shot until the subject smiles, and
'Blinking Detection', to warn you when your smiling subject
blinked mid-shot.

Other specs: 10-megapixel CCD sensor, 5x optical zoom, 2.5-inch
LCD display, 'Digital SR' shake reduction, automatic ISO up to
6400, 36MB built-in memory plus SD/SDHC memory card slot, and 80
cheesy digital frame effects for post-shot editing. Silver,
Light Pink, or Blue. 130-g with battery.

More info:
http://www.pentax.jp/japan/imaging/digital/compact/optio-m60/
feature.html (Japanese)

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Solid Alliance USB drive targets key Satou demographic

Name: Solid Alliance '...of the world' series USB drive
Category: USB memory drive
Price: JPY3200
Release date in Japan: July 25, 2008

Tokyo-based Solid Alliance, fine purveyors of USB drives shaped
like ducks and sushi, now has a USB drive with your name on it -
if that happens to be Satou, that is. Which, fortunately for the
company, is pretty often the case in Japan.

The 19-million-strong members of clan Satou often find
themselves mistaken for 'that other Satou', and some have been
known to wish for a more distinctive last name. But listen up,
'sekai no Satou' ('Satous of the world')! It's time to display
clan pride, says Solid Alliance. The company's new 1GB drive
takes the shape of the two characters making up Japan's most
common family name: 'sa' plugs into your PC, while 'tou' is the
cap. Curvy Edo-era 'yose' script adds to its visual impact.
Solid Alliance adds a loop for a chain or strap, so you can
openly display to the world your membership in this most
inclusive of clubs.

(You're paying for your branding here, though, Satou-san. A
generic 1GB USB drive is easy to find for less than JPY1000;
even a 4GB drive should cost less than this model.)

Solid Alliance also adds a fervent wish for any and all athlete
Satous to bring home gold from Beijing, along with the hope that
'all of Japan's Satous win gold medals in the Olympics called
life'.

And if you're not a Satou? Solid Alliance is accepting votes
online for the next name in the series. 'Yamadas of the world'?
'Fujiwaras of the world'? Perhaps one day, electronics shops
will display racks of USB drives in hundreds of names, just as
ready-made 'hanko' name stamps are sold in stationery shops. So
go ahead and vote for your lineage (though if you're not a
Tanaka, Suzuki, Yamamoto, or Takahashi, you've got some waiting
ahead of you).

More info: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/sastore/c/0000000336/
(Japanese)
Vote for the next name:
http://www.solidalliance.com/cgi-bin/oftheworld/vote.cgi

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Short items

Spotted elsewhere in the news:

1) Okayama-based Sanwa Supply offers a wireless 10-key-pad
mouse, the NT-WLMA2. A selector offers the option to make only
the mouse or 10-key functions active, so you don't accidentally
punch numbers while mousing around. JPY7329.
http://www.sanwa.co.jp/news/200807/nt-wlma2/index.html
(Japanese)

2) Recently we noted Thanko's USB Cooler Mouse with a built-in
fan - a gimmick unfortunately able to cool only one hand at a
time. Well, the company didn't waste much time addressing that
shortcoming: this week, Thanko announced the USB Cooler
Keyboard, an aluminum-topped full-size keyboard with no less
than three fans blowing air out of ventilation holes in the palm
rests. Two sweat-free palms can be yours for JPY6980.
http://thanko.jp/coolerkeyboard/ (Japanese)

3) Sanwa Supply has a new stylus aimed squarely at Japan's
legion of new iPhone 3G users, the PDA-PEN17. The JPY2097 stick
has a conductive sponge tip, and is good for any touch or drag
operation that you'd normally perform with a finger. (Once
again, a free piece of advice to stylus manufacturers: Why not
tell customers to buy and hold two pens, chopstick-style, to
enable two-finger pinch operations?)
http://www.sanwa.co.jp/news/200807/pda-pen17/index.html
(Japanese)
iPhone accessory collection:
http://www.sanwa.co.jp/seihin_joho/iphone/index.html

4) Speaking of iPhones: If you're still trying to find one in
stock in Japan, weekends may be your best bet. Neither Apple
Japan nor Softbank Mobile are making big announcements about
availability, but Business Computer News' analysis of sales data
found spikes in iPhone 3G sales on July 18 (Friday), and July
25-26 (Friday and Saturday), pointing to the timing of
shipments. As reported earlier, the two iPhone 3G models snapped
up 45% of all mobile phone unit sales in Japan on July 11, but
plunged to single digits soon afterward due to simple lack of
stock. On July 26, however, the 16GB iPhone 3G regained the
top-selling mobile phone slot, with 8.8% of unit sales. (The 8GB
model rose only to #16, at 1.6%.)
http://bcnranking.jp/news/0807/080728_11375.html (Japanese)

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Written by: Timm Tuttle
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In collaboration with Gadget Watch, Gadget blog Tekronomicon
offers a detailed look at select gadgets - shiny and strange,
from gizmo ground zero in Tokyo.
See the gadgets introduced in Gadget Watch,
with photos and more at: www.tekronomicon.com

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